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Beyond Summer Stock: Hunter Students Stage a Hit at International Festival

The Salem brothers will never forget the summer of 2013.

Two years ago, when Joseph and James Salem were both students at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter, they co-wrote a musical called "Bending All the Rules." James wrote the book and lyrics, Joe wrote the score, and several of their classmates starred in a campus production by the Hunter Theatre Company.

Afterward, at the urging of Theatre Department Chair Joel Bassin, the Salems applied to festivals that showcase outstanding new work. They were thrilled when "Bending All the Rules" won a highly coveted spot at New York's Midtown International Theatre Festival.

A Full Audience, a Critic's Praise

Ticket sales were strong for the five performances in July and August, and a major Broadway/Off Broadway website published a very positive review.

Joe Salem
Joe Salem
Theatermania critic Zachary Stewart had high praise for the show's "clear-eyed look at relationships for twentysomethings in the big city, with all their variations and complications" and "the attractive cast of Hunter College students." Citing Joe's "beautiful and challenging music" and James's "nuanced lyrics," Stewart concluded, "Let's hope we hear more from this promising duo."

The company included director P. Tyler Britt, choreographer Jessica Cawthon, costume designer Lui Konno, production stage manager Carolina Arboleda, and performers Ethan Applegate, Julieta Benitez, Ryan Neal Green, Jessica Lamdon, Anna Moscovic, Andrew Pichardo and Jillian Stevens. Except for Green, all were students or recent graduates of Hunter.

James, who graduated in May with a double major in theatre and political science, is now at the NYU School of Law. Joe, who sings and plays the trumpet, piano and guitar in addition to composing, is a music major in his third year at Hunter.

 For more information about their show, visit

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